Roberts Creek resident Barry Cavens was honoured last month for a career dedicated to excellence in gas safety.
Cavens, 71, was one of six recipients at the BC Safety Authority’s eighth annual Lieutenant Governor Safety Awards luncheon, held Dec. 2 at the Rive Rock Casino in Richmond.
Best known locally as the chair of the southern Sunshine Coast ferry advisory committee, Cavens has more than 40 years’ experience as a mechanical engineer and was recognized for helping to improve codes and standards in the gas industry in both Canada and the U.S.
“Throughout his career, Mr. Cavens has contributed to the development of emergency response plans for utilities and other organizations and has demonstrated a commitment to gas safety awareness and education initiatives, including the Call Before You Dig program,” the BC Safety Authority citation said.
“I guess I kind of walk the talk and just keep at it. It’s like the ferry stuff,” Cavens said in an interview after the event.
Cavens took early retirement in 2003 from Terasen Gas (now FortisBC) but has “not been too successful at retiring, so I do consultant work,” he said. “I continue to nudge others to do the right thing and remind them that it’s in everybody’s interest to have a public that’s informed. If we have an informed population, that lowers the risks. They’ll pick up the phone and do something.”
Originally from Burlington, Ont., Cavens graduated from the University of Waterloo in 1969 and moved to B.C. after spending a holiday here two years later.
“We liked it so much we didn’t come back,” he said.
He and his wife Lynda moved to Roberts Creek about 20 years ago, with Cavens commuting to Vancouver for the first 12 years.
Cavens said he has seen public awareness on gas safety improve over the years, but the job never ends. “You have to continually keep the message going.”
One home safety feature Cavens recommends is a carbon monoxide detector — “whether you burn wood, oil, natural gas or propane.”
He also offered these gas safety tips:
• “Don’t use an outdoor barbecue or portable heater inside because they’re a fire hazard and they’re going to produce carbon monoxide. If you’re going to do something stupid like that, get a carbon monoxide detector.”
• “If there’s a power failure, don’t take your portable generator inside the house or the garage because it’ll produce carbon monoxide. They’re intended for outdoor use.”
• “Have your appliances serviced. Don’t let them break down. You should manage the risk. Every appliance has a manual. It’s a good idea to read it sometimes.”
In his job, Cavens said, hindsight can be tragic.
“I see the consequences after the accident and people say they should have known.”
Recipients of the Lieutenant Governor Safety Award are chosen by a selection committee composed of BC Safety Authority staff and other safety professionals.